Our Success

Excel Academy is proving that the opportunity gap can be closed. We present our students with educational experiences that allow them to grow and discover their best selves. And we support our students to become self-advocates so that when they leave our halls, they can navigate all of the post-secondary options available to them. Excel Academy provides the avenues through which our students can change themselves and pave a path to success that is meaningful to them.

Consistent Success that is both Rigorous and Inclusive

Excel Academy’s students have achieved remarkable success at the middle and high school levels. Excel Academy students have consistently been ranked as top performers among peer schools in the state based on the percentage of our students who are Meeting or Exceeding Expectations on the MCAS exams.

Excel Academy is defined not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include in our community. Excel Academy prioritizes an approach that is both rigorous and inclusive. Each year, more of our students are gaining access to challenging, college-level course work. Approximately 94% of our 11th and 12th-grade students complete at least one advanced course, which is near twice the statewide average of 65%. Last year, we doubled the number of AP courses offered and had 74.5% of our senior class earn a 3 or more on at least 1 AP exam. Research shows that students who receive a score of 3 or higher on AP Exams typically experience greater academic success in college and have higher graduation rates than their non-AP peers.

Additional Highlights:

  • Excel Academy High School has been ranked in the top 3% of public high schools nationwide by the US News and World Report
  • At 4%, Excel Academy has a lower attrition rate than any other Boston charter public school and our sending districts. 
  • Overall, our schools perform better on the state’s MCAS than 72% of middle/high or K-12 schools statewide.
  • The percentage of our students with disabilities who meet or exceed expectations on the MCAS is double the state’s average. 
  • 20% more of our students with disabilities meet or exceed expectations on the MCAS in the 8th grade in comparison to our sending districts. 
  • 10% more of our students who are English language learners meet or exceed expectations on the MCAS in the 8th grade in comparison to our sending districts.
  • Overall the SGP for students who receive Special Education services was 65, putting Excel among the top schools in the state for comparative groups.
  • Excel is beating the odds for how students grow in MCAS performance from 5th to 8th grade. Among peer charter public schools, Excel Academy students show the most growth from 5th to 8th grade on the MCAS. 
    • Math: 31% more students are meeting and exceeding expectations in 8th grade than in 5th — compared to the state and charters decreasing by 2%.
    • ELA: 8% more students are M+E in 8th than 5th — compared to the state remaining even and charters decreasing by 8%

Results Beyond Excel Academy 

Excel Academy provides an unparalleled post-secondary success support program through our College Access and Post-Secondary Success team. Since our first students graduated from 8th grade, we have provided robust support and counseling services to our alumni to ensure they succeeded in high school and their post-secondary endeavors. Today, eight full-time staff members work with our students in middle school, high school, and beyond high school. Excel Academy’s graduates are achieving at high levels, especially compared to similar demographics nationally.

  • 94% of students from our first six middle school graduating classes have graduated from high school or earned their equivalency certificate (GED or HiSET)
  • 76% of the high school class of 2015 (Excel Academy Class of 2011) matriculated into a 2- or 4-year college/university.
  • 65% of the alumni from our first six classes have graduated from or are currently enrolled (persisting) at a 2- or 4-year year college/university. 
    • The 6-year college completion rate for Latino males from the Boston Public Schools Class of 2005 was 26.5%.
    • Nationally, fewer than 10% of students from low-income families graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Impressive Comparative Gains

Improved Academic Outcomes for Students Classified with Special Needs and English Language Learners

New research by Elizabeth Setren, Tufts University, finds Boston charter schools boost the academic outcomes of special-needs students and English language learners. Her research shows that charter school attendance has large positive effects on a host of educational outcomes, from test scores to enrollment in college.

After a year at a charter school, students who were designated as English learners or special-education students at the time of the admissions lottery do far better on state tests. As a result, one year of charter attendance narrows the achievement gap between English learners and their typical, non-classified counterparts in Boston Public Schools by 84 percent in math and 39 percent in reading. For special-education students, charter enrollment decreases the achievement gap by 30 percent in math and 20 percent in reading. 

At Excel Academy, high expectations, and an inclusive approach to teaching students in need of special education support and services are woven into the fabric of our school. You can learn more about how our network works to accommodate students with special needs, including English-language learners and those with disabilities by reading “Inclusion in Action” at Excel Academyor listening to EdNext Podcast: Serving All Students at Excel Academy.

More Learning per Year 

In 2013 and 2015, the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) conducted groundbreaking independent studies to learn more about charter school performance across the country. While the studies showed mixed results for charter schools when compared to district schools in other states, the data coming out of Massachusetts’ charter schools told a much different story. Even more specifically, Boston’s charter schools were found to be the highest performers in the country, when compared to local district public schools. Based on CREDO’s findings, Excel’s middle school students:

  • Receive the equivalent of additional 273 days of learning per year in Math.
  • Receive the equivalent of additional 301 days of learning per year in English.

To put this into perspective, by Thanksgiving of each year, Excel’s students have learned as much material in the first two months of the academic year as their district public school counterparts will learn throughout the entire year. 

Recent Awards and Recognition

  • 2021 Excel Academy High School has been ranked in the top 3% of public high schools nationwide by the US News and World Report
  • 2020 Featured on National Charter Alliance for Public Schools, “Uplifting Stories from the Charter Community XXI”, for our focus on mental health.
  • 2020 Featured on EdNext Podcast: Serving All Students at Excel Academy.
  • 2019 Excel Academy CEO Owen Stearns was named the EY New England Entrepreneur of the Year for Social Impact.
  • 2016 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Runner-Up: Brett Pangburn, 6th Grade English teacher at Excel Academy East Boston, is runner-up for the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Award. Brett was a finalist for TNTP’s Fishman Prize in 2014.
  • 2015 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice: Zeke Phillips, founding 5th grade English teacher at Excel Academy Chelsea and founding 9th grade English teacher at Excel Academy Charter High School, is one of four awardees of the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice from TNTP.
  • 2015 Pozen Prize for Charter Schools: Excel Academy East Boston was named runner-up for the Pozen Prize for Charter Schools in 2015.